The next part to be analyzed is the in-tray exercises. These use realistic scenarios which you are likely to face in your role and are designed to test how you act under pressure, how you prioritize, how you make decisions in the workplace etc. A very likely task is that you will be given a full email inbox which contains various “urgent” emails and you are asked to act upon them and use your best judgement to prioritize your actions. This has to be done within a limited amount of time and more emails are likely to pop up as you go along. Another likely task is that you are given a range of possible scenarios in which you have to make decisions and choose your actions from a variety of options.
Here are some tips:
1) Be yourself: Don’t try to guess what your assessors are looking for, because you might be surprised. Don’t try to give them what you think they want because your guesstimate may prove to be wrong. Be true to what you would have done in a similar situation in real life – that’s what your assessors will want to see.
2) Try to finish the task: Part of the in-tray’s purpose is to put the candidate under time pressure. Failing to complete the task will show that pressure is a factor that can impact on your performance, which may even cost you the job.
3) Use common sense: When completing the task, you will find out that some of the supposedly urgent matters are not that urgent at all. If you fall into the trap of prioritizing an email whose content is not really urgent, just because the message is marked as such, this will definitely count against you. So use your common sense and only give priority to those truly urgent messages.
4) Get into the role: The in-tray task may not reflect the actual position you are applying for. Instead, it may ask you to pretend you are someone else – usually a senior level decision maker – for the purpose of the exercise. Make sure you get into the role’s shoes and use your best judgement to respond as if you truly were this imaginary person.